When Pedro Alvarez was called up in June of 2010, he was supposed to be our savior. Our Sidney Crosby. Our bright spot at the end of our putrid tunnel of doom. Our baseball Jesus.
Instead it was like our savior finally showed up, took a look at all the eager, hopeful, upturned faces worn haggard by 18 years of losing, and said, “SAVE YOU?! I’m just looking for the donuts, man.”
He got fat (by pro-athlete standards) and slow (by molasses standards) and sucky (by Oreck and black hole standards), and he ended last season with a vomitous (by Snooki standards) .191 average. He was then sent to the AAA minors where he could wallow in his suck in peace.
This year, Clint Hurdle has a plan! And if the plan was a PowerPoint presentation it would be one white slide with these words in big black letters: “SWING.” Just like you can’t get a goal if you don’t shoot and you can’t get a restraining order against you if you don’t stalk Mario, you can’t get a hit if you don’t swing … and swing early.
Hurdle must have seen the 2011 numbers, when Alvarez, between injuries, swooned to a .191 average. They are startling: When Alvarez swung at the first pitch, he hit .417 (10-for-24); furthermore, when he put a ball in play no more than two pitches into the count, he hit .347.
Meaning, when he let pitchers work him into deeper counts, Alvarez hit .119. After pitchers jumped ahead of him 0-2, Alvarez was 5-for-65 (.077) — out of a total of 235 at-bats.
So the plan is for our savior to swing, and before you dismiss this as an overly simplistic way of addressing what must be a plethora of complex problems, I remind you of the great Roberto Clemente’s advice about slumps:
If you want to break out of a slump, make sure you get at least three swings at the ball every time up; with a total of at least 12 cuts in four at bats per game, all you need is one good swing to get a hit.
Granted, Pedro is in the middle of a slump more abyss-like than the Grand Canyon, but I have hope that this year he can put the donuts down, brush the rainbow sprinkles off of his jersey, pick up a bat, point to The Great One up in heaven, and send a few missiles over the Clemente Wall.
Let us pray.
P.S. Someone needs to make some “JUST SWING, PEDRO!” shirts, and just like the Tomahawk Chop, every time Pedro comes to the plate, we all mime the bat-swinging motion while chanting “SWING! SWING! SWING!” And then one random dude will scream out, “YOU CAN DOOOO IIIIIIIIT!” Let’s make it a thing because THIS IS THE YEAR.